The specter of fascism, racism and environmental disaster looms over the US under Trump's administration. Last Real Indians reports on January 24th, 2017 Donald Trump signed two executive memorandums to build the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. Former President Barack Obama, facing tremendous popular opposition, vetoed Keystone XL in 2011. Egregious human rights abuses by US police, military and private security personnel protecting Dakota Access resulted in international condemnation of the US forcing the Obama administration to halt Dakota Access by denying the easement which would run beneath the Missouri River.

The Missouri is the fresh water source for 18 million US citizens, and the citizens of the Oceti Sakowin (Sioux Nation)

Sioux treaties

Dakota Access crosses treaty territory of the Sioux Nation. The Sioux is the most famous of North American indigenous nations in its continuing opposition to political assimilation into the US. Traditional Sioux view the US as an illegal foreign occupier. Sioux resistance began with the Lewis and Clark Expedition at the beginning of the 19th Century. It continued into the middle of the century with the Sioux defeating the US in battle. The resulting 1851 and 1868 Ft. Laramie treaties are most significant under law because they represent a total surrender and total concession of the United States.

The rewrite

The treaties expressly forbid the US building infrastructure through Sioux Nation territory. Through treachery the 1868 treaty was secretly rewritten, removing all provisions preventing the US from building infrastructure. The Sioux correctly assert that they never offered their legal assent because they did not sign the rewrite.

Historically, the US Government has gotten around its treaty obligations with internally colonized indigenous nations within its claimed territorial boundaries through the use of a variety of racist legal fictions.

US legal fictions

The first is the Christian Doctrine of Discovery which alleges that any discovering European Christian sovereign that is the first to discover a land inhabited by non-Christians has the legal right to dispossess the so-called “heathens” of their territory.

This racist and religiously bigoted doctrine, first articulated by Catholic legal scholars in the 15th Century to justify Spanish and Portuguese imperialism in the Caribbean and Latin America, became a part of positive US law in the infamous Supreme Court decision of Johnson v. McIntosh in 1823. This racism remains part of US positive law. The US ultimately asserts its territorial claims using the Discovery Doctrine. This racism led to the other racist legal fictions under US law, such as the concept of Congressional plenary (absolute) authority over Indian affairs and the concept of unilateral treaty abrogation. The legal theory of unilateral treaty abrogation has profound implications for international law.

Particularly under Trump's extreme right administration.

The Declaration

Some scholars say US violation of international treaties is rooted in its continuing breach of indigenous treaties. The US was among the last of sovereign states to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in December 2010. UNDRIP questions the entire body of US federal Indian law in so far as it is inconsistent with the terms of UNDRIP. UNDRIP requires free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples for any infrastructure projects a state may wish to construct in its territory. This is consistent with Sioux treaty rights. The US continues to skirt the UNDRIP to keep Dakota Access within the US domestic legal framework despite international pressure.

Trump's support for the pipelines shows his contempt for the science of climate change and the legal rights of indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples are the front line in the fight against climate change. The people continue to Stand with the Standing Rock Sioux against Donald Trump.